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AT&T asks Apple to signal iPhone 4S is a 4G phone

LTE isn't 4G, and HSPA+ certainly ain't

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US carrier AT&T wants Apple's iPhone 4S to show "4G" in the handset's status bar when the gadget connects to its HSPA+ network.

An internal memo leaked to website The Verge shows that AT&T says it's working with Apple to get the change implemented in a future version of iOS.

If this is indeed the case and it is applied globally, it could make for some interesting discussions with telecoms and advertising regulators.

LTE is not truly 4G, though it's being marketed by some network operators as such. HSPA+ has even less claim to the moniker.

The term '4G' essentially defines data speed. ITU standard IMT-Advanced states that for a network to be 4G it should deliver data speeds of 100Mb/s when the device is in motion, rising to 1Gb/s when the gadget is stationary.

The iPhone 4S has a peak throughput of 14.4Mb/s, a long way short of both of those speeds, as does most other currently shipping smartphones.

LTE is faster. It's downloads can theoretically hit 100Mb/s in ideal conditions, but uploads peak at 50Mb/s.

If HSPA+ is 3.5G, you might call LTE 3.9G.

The question is, will nations' advertising watchdogs allow Apple - or its carrier partners - to put '4G' next to the 4S' signal strength marker when the new iPhone delivers a fraction of the speed a 4G device should? ®

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